Hardbarger started running and never looked back
Mike Hardbarger, a standout in both cross country and track and field and two-time All-American, returns for his fifth season at RIT.
A fifth-year mechanical engineering student, Hardbarger was a 2008 Outdoor All-American in the 1,500-meters, finishing fifth in a school-record time of 3:49.36, and a 2009 Indoor All-American in the mile, placing seventh. In addition, Hardbarger holds two outdoor and five indoor RIT school records.
Hardbarger was the 2009 NYSCTC Indoor Athlete of the Meet and 2009 Empire 8 Indoor Runner of the Year. He also competed in the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships in the distance medley (9:58.59). Hardbarger was an All-Empire 8 cross country first team selection in 2006 and helped lead the Tigers to the NCAA Championships.
Why did you choose RIT?
I came to RIT because I was impressed with the opportunities that the mechanical engineering program offered. Also, I wanted to get out and experience the world beyond the hills of West Virginia where I was born.
What was your experience with athletics before coming to RIT?
I played basketball, baseball and even football for years when I was younger and absolutely hated running. Then during my final two years of high school, my best friend talked me into running and I have never looked back.
Whatís the best part about being a student athlete?
Being able to have a team to hang out with and have fun with is the best part. Itís like when you are part of your team you automatically have 20 friends to hang out with for two hours a day. Itís just great!
How does being an athlete affect being a student?
I have to be more responsible for my body. I have to be aware that my actions affect not only myself but the team as well.
What is your greatest moment in sports at RIT?
Winning the ECAC Distance Medley Relay my junior year, definitely! We broke the school record and qualified for the national meet. Every leg of that relay team ran a personal record and it was an unbelievable moment, something I will never forget.
What is your greatest academic accomplishment at RIT?
Getting All-Academic track and field honors my junior year. It is nice to be recognized for my work on and off the track.
What are you looking forward to for the coming year?
I am pumped for my fifth year! This is it for me and I really want to go out with a bang and see all the work I have put in come together and produce some amazing performances for myself and the team.
How have your co-op experiences prepared you for life after college?
I have had wonderful co-op experience while at RIT. They have taught me valuable life tools that a student could never learn while in the classroom. These skills will continue to benefit me for years to come while working as a mechanical engineer.
What advice do you have for freshmen?
Find something you love doing and are very passionate about and do it! The campus is full of people who might share your interests, so just go out there and find them and make friends. The social side of college is a part you will always remember, so take advantage of it while you are here.
Who is your favorite pro athlete?
As a follower of professional distance running, I have to choose American distance runner Anthony Famiglietti. He has a great personality both on and off the track. He ran steeplechase at the past Olympics and he wasnít scared of the competition, he just went out and pushed the pace from the gun.
What is your favorite non-RIT Rochester hangout?
I like going up to Lake Ontario with my friends and just hanging out throwing Frisbee and soaking up the sun all day.
I love chicken prepared just about any way. I really like Buffalo chicken wings but they arenít very good for my running so I usually eat them only in the off season.
Favorite professional sports teams?
I have been an Oakland Raiders fan for as long as I can remember. It has been a few years since they have been very good but Iím not about to give up on them anytime soon.
Tiger Sports Online:
For highlights of all RIT teams and athletes and to see schedules of games, visit www.ritathletics.com.